May 2014

SEIU Wins Two Lawsuits Against Metro Nashville School District!

Since 2010, Local 205 has been in a pitched battle with Metro Nashville Public Schools director Jesse Register ever since Register ordered the layoff of nearly 700 school custodians. Local 205 filed two lawsuits to challenge Register’s power grab and has won both of them. Here’s an update.

SEIU 205 vs. MNPS

This case challenged Dr. Register’s right to do away with the Labor Negotiations Policy (“LNP”) which was approved by the School Board in 2000. The LNP is the core document which protects workers rights, their employee handbook, and their grievance procedure among other things. SEIU maintained, and the court agreed, that Register’s decision to unilaterally do away with the LNP without a vote by the School Board, was unlawful. The court said that the LNP from 2000 is still in effect and can only be repealed by a vote by the School Board. The district has appealed this decision and the union is awaiting a court date.


In this case, SEIU represented Tanya Aina-Labinjo, a school cashier who was terminated from MNPS. The union maintains that under state law and the Metro charter, that Ms. Labinjo and all support staff in the schools have the right to appeal, with cause, a termination to the School Board. MNPS maintains that the superintendent (Register) has the final say, but the court agreed with SEIU that the Metro charter “require that that the Board of Education… act in the capacity of a civil service commission concerning non-teaching employees who are dismissed.” The school district appealed the ruling and lost their appeal.

We will continue to keep members advised on updates in MNPS.


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A Tale of Two Libraries: Local 205 Members Take Action!

Some Local 205 members working for Nashville Public Library.

Some Local 205 members working for Nashville Public Library.

SEIU Local 205 members working in public libraries in Nashville and Chattanooga have been organizing to ensure fairness and economic security for them and their co-workers over the last year and have achieved no small amount of success by standing together.

SEIU members working in the Main library in downtown Nashville – who pay over $100/month to park where they work – have been campaigning for nearly a year to address their transportation issues. Union members launched a petition drive and a lobbying campaign of the library director, the board, and city officials. We are happy to report that a free shuttle for employees has been added along with more frequent trips for staff reporting in at different times. “This is a great first step to addressing the parking situation in the main branch,” says Bridget Radford, a shop steward. “The new option has been popular for many staff and we hope to eventually make sure that everyone who wishes to drive to work at the Main library can afford to so.”

Meanwhile, parking reform was also a goal for SEIU members working in the Chattanooga downtown library. Like Nashville, employees had to pay excessive parking fees to park in the lot that their workplace sits on. After workers there passed around a petition with dozens of signatures, SEIU reps raised the issue with city officials and the Mayor’s office. Starting in April, workers now are able to park for free at City Hall only a few blocks away. “Inclement weather presents a challenge sometimes, but I would much rather walk a couple of blocks and save some of my hard-earned money in high parking fees,” says Robert Hart who works in the downtown library.

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